It’s amazing to see the roundabout justifications in the media regarding the Obama administration’s increasingly close relationship with Uzbekistan and its monstrous dictator Islam Karimov. As I’ve written previously, the Uzbek government is one of the worst human rights violators in the world. The Bush administration supported the regime handsomely in order to have military bases there and help supply American troops in Afghanistan. The Karimov regime engaged in wretched abuses against individuals caught up in the Bush administration’s War on Terror, and became known for widespread torture, including boiling people alive and raping people with broken bottles. Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, wrote an important book on this.
The US-Uzbekistan relationship began to sour in part because of how widespread the international condemnation was for forming such a close and supportive alliance with such a monster. But lately, the Obama administration has been cozying back up to the dictator in their execution of the Afghan war. The State Department itself, in its latest report on Uzbekistan lists an inventory of human and civil rights abuses, including: “Instances of torture and mistreatment of detainees by security forces; incommunicado and prolonged detention; arbitrary arrest and detention; denial of due process and fair trial; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association; governmental control of civil society activity; restrictions on religious freedom including harassment and imprisonment of religious minority group members; and government-compelled forced labor in cotton harvesting.”
Secretary of State Clinton just visited with Karimov this week, barely a month after the Obama administration lifted sanctions on Uzbekistan which will allow the resumption of US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to the despot. The commentary on this “cozying up” and this latest Clinton visit is always apologetic, creatively assigning the utmost reluctance and goodwill to our dear leaders in the Obama camp. We hear about the administration trying to press Uzbekistan towards respect for human rights and democracy, as Human Rights Watch urged them to do just prior to Clinton’s departure. The Washington Post goes so far as to claim Clinton “chided” the Central Asian dictator on human rights. In public at least, her so-called chiding amounted to a pathetic, empty hint specifically aimed at media like the Postwould regurgitate it and frame it as an earnest attempt to save the Uzbek people from the terror their government has unleashed on them for years. She said, “Countries that make reforms to give their people the opportunities for political and economic participation that they demand and deserve will thrive. Those who do not will fall behind.” Ah, a ripe old tongue-lashing.
On the one hand, the politics of this is that it’s merely another example of Obama’s treacherous record of tenacious support for tyranny and state terrorism all around the world. The anointed one who flew into presidential politics four years ago on a golden chariot of peace and human rights, has consistently supported some of the worst dictators and sadistic abuses of basic rights of the individual, never mind his own foreign and domestic policies. Yet he still has approximately half of the electorate’s support, dipping below 50% only because of the recession. And whether he wins or loses in 2012, he will receive approximately half of the vote – the other half of course going to some Republican even more blatantly supportive of such tyranny. And some Obama supporters still see him as the champion of human rights that is so very much is not.
But pushing a bit further, in a country supposedly based on the rule of law, why in the world should our masters in the halls of power in Washington be getting away with any of this? I mean, the Obama administration has enough blood on its own hands for there to be criminal investigations for, say, the implementation of the war in Afghanistan, for example – or for its obstruction of justice for the crimes of his predecessors. But lending money, weapons, and diplomatic support to consistent human rights violators from Latin America to the Middle East to Central Asia shouldn’t just be a tenuous question of policy…it should be indictable.